I've said it before and I'll say it again; I rarely turn down an invitation to dinner. For me, there is no better way to spend an evening than sitting around a table and chatting over food and a few cocktails. I especially love being able to give the host a hand by contributing something to the meal (when they ask!), but I have a few guidelines I like to stick to, to keep things easy on myself. Most of my rules stem from the fact that I travel pretty exclusively on public transportation (or on foot), but I think the general rules can apply to folks with cars too.
Yossy's Rules for Food-to-Go
1. Don't bring anything too heavy or hard to carry: no one wants you to show up to a party sweaty and red faced because you've been hauling around 3 bottles of wine and a cast iron skillet full of cornbread.
2. Don't bring anything that needs to be cooked on site. Your host is probably going to be using the oven and stove, so don't try to sneak in the dumplings that you just have to pan fry to order or use their stand mixer to mash your potatoes.
3. On that note, nothing messy or saucy. Take something liquid, add in a subway transfer and a few block walk and you've got distaster written on your forehead, and spilled on your party shoes.
4. Handheld treats rule them all! Cookies, brownies, little pies, spiced mixed nuts, freshly baked dinner rolls, any veggie side that can be served room temperature, a salad with the dressing sealed up in an a mason jar, a delicious piece of cheese and a loaf of bread, you get where I am going here.
*Bonus points if you can transport your dish in the container you are going to serve it in.
**Double points if you remember to bring the host a gift. I love to share my jam and preserves and they make great host gifts for folks who love food.
These cheesy straws were the other half of my party contribution last weekend and they are my new favorite snack to eat with cocktails, not to mention that they followed all of my Food-to-Go Rules. They were simple to put together, easy to eat and transport and a real crowd pleaser. The whole wheat flour made a perfect base for all peppery, cheesy, buttery flavor packed into these crackers and I knew they were going to be a hit after I "taste tested" most of the first batch that came out of the oven.
What are your favorite foods to bring to a party?
Whole Wheat Cheese Straws
yield, about 50 straws depending on how you slice them
4.5 ounces whole wheat flour
2.25 ounces all purpose flour
1/8 ounce salt
1/4 ounce aleppo pepper (or to taste)
1/8 ounce cracked black pepper
1/8 ounce cayenne pepper
3 ounces cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1.5 ounces sour cream or creme fraiche
3 ounces finely grated parmesan cheese
6 ounces finely grated cheddar cheese (I used a sharp white cheddar)
flaky salt for sprinkling (optional)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flours, salt and spices.
2. Add in the cold butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse sand with a few chunks of butter. Add in the sour cream and mix until well combined.
3. Add in bowl cheeses and mix until just incorporated. The dough should hold together when you squeeze it together with your hands. If it doesn't just add some milk or water to the mixture one teaspoon at a time until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to overnight before rolling and baking the straws.
4. When you are ready to roll and bake the straws preheat your oven to 350º and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Split the chilled dough into two pieces. Working with one half of the dough at a time, on a lightly floured surface roll it into a rough rectangle about 1/8'' thick. If your kitchen is warm, you may find that rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper is easier.
5. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough into strips 1/4''-1/2'' wide. Gently place the strips onto the prepared baking sheets about 1/4'' apart and sprinkle with flaky salt (optional). They won't spread much width wise, but they will puff up a bit. The dough is pretty delicate from all of that cheese and butter, so don't worry if the strips crack or break when you move them. Repeat with the other half of the dough
6. Slide the cheese straws into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. I baked mine for 14 minutes because I like them nice and crispy and caramelized, but you may like them less "done".